All my life, I have had dreams. I would dream to be a big movie star, a basketball player, a great photographer. Most of my dreams came and went with new fads, great movies or excellent books. The one consistent dream that has been by my side, however, was the photography.
I remember my first camera. A little green kodak film camera. I took photos of everything. The trees moving in the wind in my aunt's backyard. My cousin posing all silly in front of the swing set. The shapes of the clouds. Flowers, animals, our toys. If I could see any beauty, it was taken.
My grandmother and grandfather got me this for either my birthday or Christmas when I was 6 or 7. I only remember the greatest details, the camera, my undying gratitude for my grandparents, and the pure euphoria that I felt when I opened that box. In addiction to my green beauty, I also received 6 rolls of empty film. 6 ENTIRE rolls ALL to myself that I did not have to share. It was a dream come true to my little heart.
Since then, I always took photographs. When I was 10, my mom and dad had a temporary split. And by temporary, I mean about two years. My mom was in Illinois with her new boyfriend for about a 6 months, and missed us terribly. We initially moved with her, but my sister and I grew heartbroken and missed our dad, brother, and generally the rest of our family back home. After a very long, tear inducing phone call to my daddy, him and my grandaddy drove from SC to IL to gather my sister and I. It was only a week but I missed them more than anything in the world.
About a year later, mom and her boyfriend moved to SC. Mom had moved a few miles away, and on the weekends, we would go stay with them. I didn't get along very well with her boyfriend. He wasn't my daddy, nor as awesome. I didn't respect him at all. I had made friends with a neighbor lady, Maggie, who at the time, had a 9 month old daughter. She was my best friend, that little Sammie was. Maggie also had a best friend named Robin, and I loved her too. They both supported my dream of being a photographer. Maggie even let me take pictures of Sam!!
A few years later, when I was 11, I still didn't get along with moms boyfriend, so on the weekends that we stayed with her, if she had to work, I would stay with Maggie either all night, or until she came home.
A few years later, Maggie got pregnant with twins. I was so ecstatic. I had big plans in my little head for what I could do with twins! I waited my time, 9 months, actually, until they were born. I loved playing with the babies! They were so adorable!
When they were able to sit up, I would go in their play room, and set up different little "photo spots". I would use their toys as props, then find the outfits that would go with each one, and I dressed them and placed them. Robin went behind me to take their pictures. That was the best day of my for a long time. My little heart was happy.
Over the years, my passion has grown. I was always taking photos of everything and everyone. I have scrapbooks full of memories, because I am worried I might forget. (Or so I have been asked!)
In April 2013, I was in conversation with a gentlemen I worked with at the time, Mr. Greg. Mr. Greg is an avid surfer, Harley rider and a great man of God. We would have lunch together frequently and talk of dreams. His was to surf, and instead of trying to become a macho famous surfer, he choose to teach others. While talking to him, he convinced me that I wasn't too late to start on my dream of being a photographer. The following month, I bought my first DSLR camera.
At first, I was confused as all get out. It was discouraging. All the words of those who told me I would never make it started flooding my thoughts. My husband wasn't entirely too happy about me buying the equipment, then not using it. It was several months before I was up and running somewhat decently.
It is hard work! When you think photographer, a lot of people assume it's point, click, print. It's not! You have so much you have to learn. First, the basic knowledge of your camera. It's settings, what each one means, how to use your lenses, which is better for what settings. Then your equipment. Then everything else. You have to learn when to flash, when not too. The best times for outdoor lighting, the conditions of the weather and how they will effect what you are trying to do. It can all be overwhelming when you are first starting out.
Then you have to decide if you want to specialize in one area, what kinds of photographs you want to take, everything. I tried a bit of it all: Newborns, Families, Weddings, Budior, Nature, Animals, Events. I took a 3 day class on newborn photography, and tried it out with 2 different newborns.
I found I work better with adults, and children who can sit up by themselves. I don't have to super watch the children, or worry that it might roll off the surface that it is on, or that it might suffocate on the props. I breathe easier, relax a little more and produce much better results.
My husband has seen my work grow since I started out. He sees the potential that I have. We both learned, very quickly, that this is a field of work. It's not something that you can just pick up and be great at. I have always had a great eye for photos, but the camera sometimes doesn't pick up what I see. That is where the learning comes in on lighting, shutter speed and settings. Manuel became my new best friend.
Dreams can come true if you work hard for them. I have been working extremely hard for the past few years to make this happen, and every shoot I have adds a new learning experience. I am better than I was, and I will continue to improve. Even my best work still needs improving, and I don't think I will ever be so good to say "This is perfect, I am done." I will keep learning, keep pushing. My dream is big, and will continue to grow as I grow in knowledge.